Children's outdoor party ideas
Have you got a child’s birthday coming up and wondering how to celebrate? Have you considered hosting a party outdoors? I know that a bunch of excited children in party mode at any age can be daunting, even for those of us who are experienced teachers!
Jo and I, co-founders of The Den Kit Company, have 7 children between us and have hosted a lot of parties over the years. Without a doubt, the outdoor parties we have held have been the most successful and, with the right preparation, are relatively easy and really great fun.
So, if your child has a birthday coming up why not save the expense of hiring a venue or entertainment and host the party yourself outdoors?
“We had an outdoor 7th birthday party with a couple of treasure hunts last week in our ‘secret’ garden aka a slightly overgrown cottage garden with lots of nooks and hiding places, and yes, the kids loved it so much – but the parents loved it even more. They called it different and refreshing and not your usual indoor play area party. It was fabulous!” - Sandra @unwindyogastudio
Tips for hosting a children's outdoor party
The weather is always with us. A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to give up being disappointed with the weather. Up until this moment, living in the UK, I had been disappointed most of the time!
I have actively changed my mind set to embrace all weathers and life has changed for the better.
For outdoor parties, the only time I would rethink due to weather is if the party was to be held in a woodland with mature trees and there had been or was due to be thunderstorms and /or strong winds. Stressed trees are at their most unstable after strong winds. Otherwise, it is really useful to have a shelter of kinds- as simple as a tarpaulin strung between two uprights, with a simple groundsheet to provide shelter and/or shade.
Following the adage ‘There’s no such things as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing’, ask the children to arrive dressed for the outdoors and the weather. If it's raining on the day of your party that's no problem – just ask guests to bring their wellies and waterproofs. If it’s winter, ask everyone to wrap up warm. Layers can come off if necessary. Adults - wear waterproof trousers! They are a game changer.
Looking after other people’s children is a responsibility at any time so it’s worth taking a few sensible precautions before the children wave goodbye to their parents. Have contact phone numbers with you, visit any site beforehand to pre-empt any issues, take plenty of fluids to drink, a first aid kit and some hand sanitiser to use before eating. Set the boundaries of good behaviour very clearly. You’re in charge.
Best outdoor party venues for children
This could be your garden or any local green space such as a publicly owned park, a common, or a woodland. Whether you are going to hold the party in a publicly or privately owned outdoor space, always check for any rules and restrictions. If you’re going off-site, you can find some perfect settings within The Woodland Trust and The National Trust. Woodlands can be incredibly wildlife sensitive places in which we need to take the utmost care. Look out for on-site guidance if you're not sure.
How long should the party be?
2 to 3 hours is the usual time for most outdoor parties. An effective running order could be:
- Greetings and introductions
- Free play
- Cake and Happy Birthday singing
- Home time
Children's outdoor party themes
Your party theme can be as simple or complicated as you wish but it really helps to have one as it shapes the party and inspires the activities, party food, birthday cake and decorations.
There are so many options for themes guaranteed to inspire a memorable party.
Our top 4 favourites themes are:
The Bushcraft Party: Shelter building, camouflage and campfire cooking are activities that can’t fail! There is something innate about being able to survive which appeals to children of all ages. A bushcraft party which involves the children directly in building their own shelter/camp and cooking food on a campfire they have created never fails to delight.
Think sausages and toasted marshmallows. If planning a campfire always check regulations and think responsibly. Click here to view our Bushcraft Party Kit.
The Mini-beast Hunt Party: Another winner. Provide children with collection apparatus and identification sheets and let them explore the outdoors and discover what out there. We are surrounded by a wealth of different mini creatures from snails to spiders, woodlice to butterflies and children are entranced by them. How many different species can they find?
The Potion Party: Do you have childhood memories of making ‘perfume’ from rose petals? I remember happy hours spent in my grandmother’s garden with a bunch of jam jars and a stirring stick. I can still recall the smell! Children love mixing potions and perfumes and this activity will keep them gloriously occupied for ages. Check out our Potion Making Kit.
The Pirate Party: There is something eternally appealing about pirates. Provide a dressing up box filled with bandannas, eye patches, stripey t shirts and costume ‘treasure’ jewellery. You can face paint stubble onto willing partakers and the children can make their own pirate hats from newspaper. Activities they love include making pirate maps, a walk -the-plank obstacle course, treasure hunts, cannon ball target game and Pin the Parrot on the Pirate. Click here to view our Pirate Den Kit.
The Fairy Party: Children love an opportunity to step into a world of tininess and magic. Fairy parties are made for the wonder of outdoor settings where fairies live, of course! A great excuse to dress up too. Lovely fairy activities are making fairy crowns and wands, constructing fairy gardens and playing ‘sleeping fairies’.
Children's outdoor party favours
If the children are involved in making something at the party which they will be taking home, then often they will not need a party favour as well. Otherwise, a small thank you that reflects the outdoor theme of the party, will go down well.
Check out our Den Kit Co. party bag offer here.
And finally, never under-estimate the children’s ability to entertain themselves in an inspiring outdoor space. I remember that lovely poem that is the front of my mum’s recipe box:
Recipe for Preserving Children
Take one grassy field
1/2 dozen children (or as many as you have)
3 small dogs
a pinch of a brook
Mix the children and dogs well together and put them in the field, stirring constantly.
Pour the brook over the pebbles. Sprinkle the field with flowers, spread over all a deep blue sky, and bake in a hot sun.
When brown, remove the children and set away to cool in a bathtub.
Believe us, it’s great fun and surprisingly stress-free to host your own party in an outdoor space. I hope our ideas have inspired you to have a go. Be sure to enlist lots of willing fellow grown-ups to help you - they’ll enjoy it too! A party which entails playing joyfully outside with friends and family will be one your birthday boy/girl will never forget.